Americanized death sport a slam dunk for spectators

August 14, 2013

The only surprising thing is that the reality TV ghouls haven’t thought of this before now. But the long wait is over at last, now that the Running of the Bulls made famous in Pamplona, Spain, is coming to an arena near you.

The Running of the Bulls is pretty straightforward: A crowd of participants gathers in the streets, a herd of stampeding bulls is released, and the challenge is to exit with a minimal number of holes in your tuchus.

Occasionally, some merry mixups occur, such as people getting gored or trampled or killed, but it’s all in the name of a good time.

In one sense you have to admire the organizers of these events for bringing bull runs to the Land of the Trial Lawyer. Participants have to sign a waiver, but no waiver has ever stopped Larry Lawsuit.

So I can only imagine that these bulls will be so stoned on bovine Xanax that they’ll move with all the alacrity of the buffet line at the nursing home.


The first run in America will take place at a Southern drag-racing strip (there’s a shock), and the event will move around the country from there.

I have to admit, this is going to be pretty much of a slam dunk for the American public. To a nation that’s fascinated with the Kardashians, a bull run is going to seem like man landing on the moon.

No doubt, this will be like NASCAR without the metal — people will watch in hopes of witnessing disaster.

Because face it, the only reason anyone will watch is to see someone get gored. If you just want to watch people and animals run around in circles, you go to the dog park.

The organizers can’t say that, of course, so they try to play it off as some sort of athletic sport.

“I think it’s just a progression where we are becoming more and more active as a society,” said one of the event’s founders. “There’s this fitness craze that started with running. I think this is just an extension of all that, but making it more interesting to the general public.”

Fitness craze, that’s precious. You know, for when the adrenaline rush of jogging along the towpath just isn’t enough. One day you’re looking to keep your heart rate above 110, the next you get a hankering to see 3 feet of your small intestine trailing from the tip of a Brahma horn.

He’s got one thing right, though. Introducing the possibility of death is the only way to make running “interesting to the general public.”

We can only hope the U.S. Track and Field Association is paying attention. That 800 meters would be a lot bigger draw if you’d scatter a few cobras around the track.

But, alas, this is bike-helmeted, safety-locking, seat belt-wearing, apple cider-banning America we’re talking about, so even this running of the bulls will be watered down to the point where participants will have to have cow-like IQs to get hurt.

Instead of being held on the narrow cobblestone streets of a Spanish city, the American courses will be more open with lots of nooks and crannies, where people can hide if the going gets too intense. Yes, I’m sure the group will be studded with a few professional stunt runners who will act as if they’ve been trampled just to give the crowd its money’s worth.

But if you’re going to bring a death sport to America, I find it depressing that it’s not going to be done right.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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